What is a football WAG? The most famous wives & girlfriends in the sport
A footballer’s love life is something that seems to fascinate many and those who become romantically linked with a player are often scrutinised
WAGs (sometimes stylised Wags) is an acronym which stands for ‘wives and girlfriends’ and it is predominantly used when referring to the wives and girlfriends of famous athletes.
The term WAGs is one which encapsulates a group, but its usage has evolved to the point where a singular wife or girlfriend of a footballer is referred to as ‘a WAG’.
Footballers and athletes have always had wives and girlfriends (shock, horror), but they were not grouped under the umbrella of the term WAGs until the 21st century.
It was popularised by the British tabloid press, with some of the earliest known uses dating to 2002 in the lead up to the World Cup in Japan and Korea.
An article in the Daily Telegraph from May of that year explained that WAGs was the name given to players’ wives and girlfriends by staff at the Jumeirah Beach Club in Dubai as they spent time together ahead of the FIFA tournament.
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The papers subsequently embraced the terminology and by the 2006 World Cup in Germany its use had become widespread, appearing in the sports pages of different countries around the world.
WAGs can sometimes be seen as a pejorative term, thanks to various tabloids delivering judgemental, misogynistic assessments of those who find themselves in the category.
As a result, there is an image of footballers’ wives and girlfriends as simply spending their partners’ money, something that Leanne Brown, wife of former Manchester United defender Wes Brown, has decried.
“We have lived with the WAG stigma for so long,” she said in an interview with the Guardian. “People were quick to brand me a ‘sponger’, just for being a stay-at-home mum.”
Now that you know what WAGs means, Goal takes a look at some of the famous faces seen supporting their significant others at games.
Footballers who play at the highest level tend to rub shoulders with lots of high-profile individuals, so there are plenty of WAGs who were already famous in their own right before becoming romantically entangled with the sports stars.
For example, Victoria Beckham was a member of the popular 1990s girl band the Spice Girls before her marriage to former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder David Beckham. The Beckhams have ventured into the world of fashion together and have four children together.
Likewise, Colombian singer Shakira had a slew of hits and awards under her belt by the time she started a relationship with Barcelona’s Gerard Pique. Their romance began in 2010 when they met on the set of the video for Shakira’s World Cup song ‘Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)’ and they now have two children together.
Another individual who previously fell into that category was ex-Girls Aloud singer Cheryl, who was married to former Arsenal and Chelsea defender Ashley Cole from 2006 until 2010.
Interestingly, some of the most famous WAGs in football were actually childhood sweethearts of footballers who stayed with their partners throughout their journeys.
Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi, for example, is married to Antonella Roccuzzo, who hails from the same city as the Barca captain and knew him since he was five years old. Messi and Roccuzzo married in 2017 and have three children together.
Coleen Rooney, wife of England’s record goalscorer Wayne Rooney, has been with the former Manchester United striker since they were teenagers. The pair, who have four children together, have remained an item despite much-publicised difficulties over the years.
While Messi is hitched to his childhood sweetheart, the Argentine’s long-standing rival Cristiano Ronaldo met his girlfriend, Georgina Rodriguez, just a few years ago. Rodriguez’s profile has, as one might expect, risen considerably since her relationship with Ronaldo became public and the dancer is now dabbling in modelling. She has a daughter with Ronaldo and is also a mother figure to his three other children.
Baywatch icon and former Playboy model Pamela Anderson was a WAG for a period after entering into a relationship with France international Adil Rami, but the couple reportedly split in late 2018.
Tennis star Ana Ivanovic is married to World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger, while Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos is married to television presenter Pilar Rubio. Ramos’ Madrid team-mate Isco is in a relationship with Spanish actress Sara Salamo, whose credits include the film Wild Oats, starring Demi Moore and Jessica Lange.
Little Mix singer Perrie Edwards is the partner of Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, while Manchester United’s David de Gea is in a long-term relationship with Edurne Garcia, a singer who represented Spain in the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest.
Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski is married to Ana Lewandowska, who has represented Poland in World, European and national karate championships and his team-mate Thomas Muller also married a sportswoman in the form of equestrian Lisa Trede.
Other famous WAGs include models Abbey Clancy (wife of Peter Crouch), Ann-Kathrin Gotze (married to Mario Gotze) and Sam Cooke (wife of Manchester United defender Chris Smalling.)